sujewa films nyc

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The Theory of No Race

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4 comments:

Matt Zoller Seitz said...

Sujewa, this is a fascinating series of entries that cuts very deep. I know you're fantastically busy but I hope you'll continue it, either online or onscreen. Thanks for citing "Power of an Illusion," a program I liked quite a bit.

The Sujewa said...

Wowzers, one comment & it's from a heavyweight in film activities - Matt "Home" Zoller Seitz. Thanks for the positive words Mr. Matt.

Yeah, race - in its totality & in action - is like The Matrix, very difficult to explain & observe (the brain needs to be put into an unusual mode in order to clearly observe the strong & invisible structure of race & its workings, affect on humans). I think the best way (or at least one of the best ways) I can contribute to the dialogue & the taking down/modifing for the better of that quantum structure is through making an accessible but super fun movie using the ideas & observations I've collected on race - perhaps a Star Wars or a Being John Malcovich (but w/ a happier ending) type movie. I've been working on & off on several scripts that work off of the idea of race, perhaps I will shoot one soon.

Damn, this means Matt's brain is now aware of my deeper studies into the concept of race, thus his review of Date Number One may dig deep(er). Oh well :)

Anyway, race is not a superstructure
in our society at this point - not like a mountain or apartheid in South Africa in the 70's (although, in some instances, it is), but in some other places - old countries like India & France, race is still a superstructure. Overall race in America does not play out like it did in "Crash", if so, it would be easier to manage. Instead, Race is a quantumstructure- barely detectable to human perception (probably due to millions of years of the human brain adapting to survival & it needing to hide some facts from us in order to keep the organism simply & functionally engaged w/ living, the world) but very real (on the other hand, its only real because people/we decide to make it real, ultimately all aspects of society happens due to our choices, or, our power of choice is stronger than the concept of race).

We'll hang in NYC soon Mr. Matt, & continue the dialogue in person, when I play DNO there this Summer.

-Sujewa

David Lowery said...

I'm looking forward to seeing how these ideas apply to your film as well, Sujeway. Your essay was fantastic - I'd be interested in seeing you reprint it here, concurrently with a follow-up piece explaining how you're using film to lift the curtain on this illusion.

I really admire your perspective. Racial issues have always been a big for me, but I've often got caught up looking at the trees instead of the forest, which is what a filmmaker like Spike Lee does as well. This is valuable and necessary, especially within a certain context, but its important that people are aware of the wider scope of the issue you present here.

For example, we talked a few months ago about how my friend didn't want to cast Asian actors in his new film because he didn't want it to be perceived as autobiographical. In the immediate sense, this is a reasonable response to a cultural tendency to identify people racially. The flip side of this situation is that he could have made a stand for his culture by refusing to make a point of casting an Asian actor in the rol -- which is what I believe you've done with your film, correct?

The latter option is politicized, the former defined by its carefully overt lack of politicization. The third option, of course, and the best one, is to just case people because they're good actors.

The Sujewa said...

Hey David Lowery,

Nice comments, thanks for posting. Re: the casting issue, I like to reflect the place I live in - ethnic diversity wise, & also make the image interesting by having radically different looking people together in one frame, so I used actors from several ethnic backgrounds (Euro-blend Am, Asian Am, African Am, & there is a half-German/half-Latin-American dude in there too, plus who knows what else - did not probe into peeps backgrounds when casting). Diversity is visually more interesting. And of course there is a host of positive social factors that can be forwarded a little by having a multi-ethnic cast. & then there is the $ factor: people sometimes buy entertainment because the work features people that look like them. So really, there is no down side to multi-ethnic casting, as far as I am concerned (reflects the real world more accurately, socially progressive, makes good $ sense).

Talk to you soon. Will write about related issues after DNO distro is up & running well/on-time. Lots of deadlines to meet right now, brain in factory gear :)

Sujewa

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